Local legislators discuss top priorities going into legislative session

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HINTON, WV (WVNS) After nearly a year since last convening, state legislators are ready to return to session in just a few days.

Whether it is their first time in a legislative session, or their seventh, legislators understand things may look completely different in Charleston this year.

“You always have that fear of a COVID outbreak which would have us shut down so some of the big items that a lot of the times are done towards the end of the session I think we are gonna work very hard to get those done at the beginning of the session,” said West Virginia Senator Jack Woodrum.

“This one will be different than all of the ones before it because of all of the issues we are dealing with,” said Delegate Mick Bates.

It is this sense of urgency that legislators said motivates them to tackle the big issues right away. The most prominent, is the effect the pandemic has on the states health and economy at every level.

“If our counties aren’t healthy our state is not healthy,” said Woodrum.

Delegate Bates said as a business owner himself, he is ready to try and help things get back to a pre-pandemic state.

“I think that you will see legislature step up and actually conduct its constitutional role and be involved in these decisions the governor has been making by himself,” said Bates.

One issue both parties want to focus on is broadband. Both Woodrum and Bates expressed how necessary a stable connection is in almost every aspect of today’s world.

“West Virginia in my opinion compared to Virginia we are at least ten years behind so we have a lot of catching up to do,” said Woodrum.

Bates explained a lot of problems associated with broadband stem from the amount of control private internet companies have in the area. Bates said that is something he wants to change.

“To put the internet companies under the jurisdiction of the public service commission and to ensure everyone has access to an affordable essential service,” said Bates.

And while most lawmakers are ready to get back to work, there is one thing in particular Delegate Bates is looking forward to in Charleston.

“The biggest thing I thought about today is are we gonna see baby dog so I brought a few doggie bags just incase,” said Bates.

This years session begins on February 10, 2021.

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